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Harbor Sentinel Field Test and Demonstration at Lake Erie

During the week of June 6-10, 2011, the Penn State Electro-Optics Center successfully tested the Harbor Sentinel system in Lake Erie, at the entrance to the Erie, PA. harbor. A demonstration was held for sponsors and guests on June 9, 2011. Harbor Sentinel is a program sponsored by NSWC Crane and PEO IWS 2.0 to develop a layered, modular and scalable approach to the detection, identification, and investigation of maritime vessels for surveillance and security.

Harbor Sentinel demonstrates a harbor security system using a sensor architecture that is flexible and extensible. The resultant Service Oriented Architecture avoids high cost stovepipe solutions to multiple sensor applications and allows rapid reconfiguration and plug and play for network compliant components in sensor networks. The architecture, called Hydra, and developed at the EOC, is equivalent in principle to the Navy's Common Digital Sensor Architecture.

Harbor Sentinel utilizes complementary sensor types. Radar and AIS detect surface vessels. Passive fiber optic acoustic arrays detect propelled vehicles without wet side electronics. A 360 panoramic camera with zoom capability identifies surface vessels. High resolution telescopic EO/IR cameras interrogate detected vessels. Data is passed from the sensors via standards based messaging to a single operator station, where it is integrated into a comprehensive display for situational awareness. The operator can cross-cue between sensors to quickly investigate detected targets with other sensors.

Photo shows the layout of the sensors in Lake Erie
Figure 1
Figure 1 shows the layout of the sensors in Lake Erie. The two acoustic arrays are laid on the lake floor so as to generate beam formed tripwires that meet at a Region of Interest (ROI). Vessels crossing the tripwires or entering the ROI generate an alarm. The command post is set up at a campground on shore. The Remote Panoramic Camera System (RPCS) is mounted on a boat and anchored at the edge of the acoustic ROI to monitor surface traffic. The High resolution EO and IR cameras and radar are supplied by a Cerberus trailer co-located with the command post.

Photo of the trailer with the Cerberus tower
Figure 2
The command post is a 16 foot trailer containing the computers that process the acoustic signals, the Operator Control Station (OCS) with two display monitors, and the Hydra network components. Figure 2 shows the trailer with the Cerberus tower parked to its left. The antenna on the tripod communicates with the RPCS sensor anchored about 1/2 nm away. A single operator manages the OCS, which provides integrated sensor data and control.

For the testing, arrangements were made for a second boat to pose as a target vessel, traversing the region of operation in order to test the sensors. Figure 3 shows what the operator sees. The display to the left shows the Operations View which provides situational awareness by depicting the sensor locations and fields of view overlaid on a map of the area. The large red fan indicates the current pointing of the Cerberus cameras; the blue fan shows the zoom direction of the RPCS panoramic camera. The two small fans represent the tripwire locations of the acoustic arrays. Alarms are shown in the black panel to the left.

Photo of Harbor Sentinel operator display
Figure 3

The right display is the Sensor View, showing in this case the full 360 RPCS panorama on the bottom and the user selectable zoom window on the top. Other sensor views, such as the Cerberus cameras or acoustic data are available by selecting buttons across the top of this display.

Photo of RPCS view of the brig Niagara
Figure 4
Figure 4 shows an RPCS view of the brig Niagara as it exits the Erie harbor for a tour out on the Lake. The Zoom window is selected by moving a box in the panorama display. The RPCS utilizes an on-board GPS and IMU to stabilize the imagery making it suitable for mounting on a boat (as here) or buoy. Azimuth indications on the display indicate the bearing from the sensor to the objects in the view.

Overall, the week's testing and demonstration successfully showed the application of networked sensors in a real world harbor security application. The acoustic sensors were able to accurately detect powered vessels as they passed over the virtual tripwires, or through the ROI. The RPCS demonstrated usable stabilized panoramic imagery from a remote floating platform linked by radio. The Cerberus radar was tuned for overwater operation and worked very well, returning tracks on boats moving in the operational area. The CONOPS of the system was demonstrated by verifying the fusion of the complementary sensors. Radar tracks of boats could be monitored on the Operations View display and seen to correspond with acoustic alerts as the track passed over the tripwires. Slew-to-cue was demonstrated by selecting the head of a track and asking the Cerberus cameras and/or the RPCS zoom window to slew to the location of the track. The vessel that generated the alarm could then be examined with close up and high definition imagery. The architecture automatically registered all sensors connected and reported if a sensor was taken offline.